We sat down with stylist, lifestyle influencer and new mum Kavita aka @kavitacola in her London flat to talk about her approach to skincare, how it's changed since she had her daughter Suri and what representing British Indian women in the beauty world means to her. Here's what she told us.
'I originally wanted to go into art but did my degree in fashion communication and promotion at Central St Martins. I worked in art direction and as a stylist which was amazing, but I wasn’t completely fulfilled. Then the whole digital thing started happening. I wanted to use my own voice, so I thought I’d start a blog. It wasn’t me trying to be original, it was like, hang on, all these people are talking about what they like, I’m going to do that too! It became my outlet and was very much about fashion, but I had part time jobs at Harrods on the beauty counters where I learned a lot and I’ve always been into skincare, so that became incorporated into my blog.
‘The blog took off when I got married; I celebrated the cultural element of our big Indian wedding and put all the makeup and beauty on there and some big brands got in touch. I got to do some cool things, representing British Asian women in the beauty sphere. That was exciting because as a London blogger, I have felt like a minority. What’s great about this job is you’re reaching out to an audience who you have things in common with. People want to know what colour foundation you’re using, what to do about pigmentation and under eye circles which you can be prone to if you're of Indian heritage. It’s nice being honest and connecting with people about those topics.’
THE BEST OF TIMES, THE WORST OF TIMES…
‘At the time of my wedding my skin was so bad. I was stressed, I wasn’t eating properly, I lost quite a bit of weight and was quite manic and it came out in my skin. No-one’s got perfect skin all the time, but when I got pregnant and throughout my pregnancy I felt my skin was really on good form. My life became more about routine - eating regularly, staying home more - so wellness was a bit more subconscious whereas before it was a bit all over the place. Maybe that made me a bit more regimented with my skincare. I started keeping a face wash in the shower so I could wash my face every morning and I put a wash by my sink so in the evening after taking off my make-up off I remembered to wash my face.
I also put more emphasis into exfoliating which I didn’t do before, and I used more creamy soft cleansers. Cowshed does a really lovely cream cleanser which is great for pregnancy because you’re not supposed to use anything too abrasive. When I had the baby I had some ups and downs, in the last few months it’s not been the best, but recently it’s been better again. It could be because I caught some sun, sometimes if you get a bit of vitamin D which we’re all lacking, it can help.’
‘For me ‘happy’ skin feels smooth and it’s got a dewy glow to it - the opposite of dull basically. I’ve got pigmentation on my forehead which heightened in my pregnancy. I’ve also got freckles which come out in the sun – none of it really bothers me, for me it’s about not having bumps and scratches. But with cleansing properly and good serums, it’s a winner.’
‘Makeup is such an amazing tool to enhance how you look. It’s definitely the more natural look that I go for – I’m not about heavy contouring. Violette and I got friendly through Estee Lauder because she’s their Global Director – I did an ambassadorship with them for a year – and I do videos for her YouTube channel. We share the belief that makeup should be accessible to everyone and be used to enhance rather than mask yourself. I was happy for her to do her signature ‘French kiss’ look on me, it’s blurred around the edges which I love. She used a really pretty purple on my eyes and the right red which worked well with my skin tone. That’s my idea of having fun with makeup – it was an intense look but it was discrete in the sense that the main focus was the lips and actually it wasn’t a heavy eye, it was subtle and I loved it. I love playing with lip and eye colours and glitter, but there’s a way of doing it - find one thing per look and focus on that, then everything else has to complement it.’
‘When I have my shower in the morning, I use a cream cleanser or an exfoliating cleanser, then a toner once my face is dry, like Cowshed’s new Anti-Pollution Facial Mist. Then I use a serum religiously, a day cream and an SPF – if my day cream doesn’t have SPF. Since having the baby and the pigmentation, I’m quite hot on SPF. Post-30 I’ve definitely felt sun damage is a thing. Before, I could be in the sun and I would turn a lovely colour and it would just fade, but now I feel like it really could damage. It does get a bit ‘layery’ but I like it! In the summer, I don’t want to feel too greasy so I’d probably just use a good serum, then put my SPF factor 50 on top. In winter I’d probably put a cream on because I do like thick creams, after the serum, wait a little bit then put on SPF. Or just rely on a lower factor SPF in a foundation.’
‘At the moment, serums. When you’ve got those active ingredients like Hyaluronic Acid, you get that level of moisture that a cream doesn’t have – I find creams can sometimes sit on the surface, they don’t penetrate as much. I’ve got this brass roller and I find doing that preps your skin, it feels like it activates your skin, massaging it, and then when you put serums on top they really penetrate your skin more. And eye creams – for tired mummy eyes! And being Indian, you just get dark circles, it’s always been a thing!’
‘I love a facial! There’s nothing like someone else giving you a good cleanse and massage and getting all those skindorphins going! Since the baby I’ve started loving massages too. I’m open to trying new products but I quickly know what I will carry on using. The things that make it into my big storage drawers are the ones I’ve got two or three of in reserve. I’ve always got three or four things per category on rotation. It’s like a beauty wardrobe - you don’t wear the same pair of jeans and t-shirt every day, so why should you use the same cream?’
GETTING INTO BEAUTY
'I used to love playing with my mum’s perfumes and lipsticks - that really got me into makeup. When I was on the Harrods counters, selling makeup, lipsticks, mascaras, I just got really into it. I always said to myself that I always want to have good skin. Looking after my skin, taking care of it and taking pride in it is paramount. For me when my skin is good, I feel good. It does a lot for your self-esteem – and you can get a lot of stuff done when you have good self-esteem.'
WORDS OF WISDOM
'My mum was always about putting the cream on upwards. She always like “massage it in!” It’s not just about the products you put on your skin, it’s about the movement. When she's older, I'll tell my daughter to Drink. Lots. Of. Water! And really I’m all about the cleansing and moisturising. Cleansing in the shower and putting good moisture back into your skin. And sun protection.'
WHAT I’VE LEARNED
'There are some blogger friends that I’m always chatting to and learning from. There’s Emma who’s Lolita Says So, she’s very good. Bambi Does Beauty, she’s fab. And then Violette is brilliant – she is just an oracle of skincare, makeup, she really knows her stuff and she’s been in the game for a long time. She is French so skincare is a big thing to her - she doesn’t even use that much foundation, just bits of concealer to cover up blemishes, then leaves parts of your skin free and moisturised. So I try and do that as well. Conceal what you want to, let the skin surface come through and just put a cat eye on. The other people on her channel that are doing videos on her channel are full of great information on food, wellness, and meditation. I’m not always doing it but meditation is important to me, it helps everything.
THE GOLDEN RULE
'For a long time now, no matter how much I’ve had to drink, no matter how tired I am, I will be taking my makeup off and washing my face! It’s weird because there’s a lot of other things I don’t do but that is one thing I DO do.'
'The clay mask is amazing. I used it last week - I had loads of bumps that were slowly going and this just finished them off. It really felt like it penetrated and you got that tingle. The night cream is really lovely, it’s got lots of essential oils which is nice. And Wonder Balm! I haven’t used it on Suri yet, but I would. I think it’s great for elbows, the backs of your heels. I use it as a hand cream too.'